Jammin' with Little Black Box Baked Goods
Once upon a time, I didn’t care for jam, nor jelly or preserves for that matter. PB&J? No thanks. I’m more a straight peanut butter kinda gal. Fast forward to a couple years ago when we met Crystal from Little Black Box Baked Goods.
While we love to support all our local FlipperSplash Brands, I was just not super anxious to try jam. I was indifferent to it. Sure, the flavors sounded intriguing, but meh. Then, our first Influencer tried Crystal’s jam. Her review was so spectacular that I could almost feel her love for jam. That’s right, real love … for jam. Ok, ok, maybe this is something I should try.
Wow. Never did I think I would have feelings for jam, but HERE WE ARE. Did you know you can add jam to pretty much anything … ice cream, toast, brie, biscuits or, with LBB jam, just spoon it directly into your mouth. Having LBB jam in my house became a staple and I do not hold back when telling others about how much it will enrich their lives. Aside from the, dare I say, life changing jam, Crystal also makes some seriously delicious baked goods, like the S’mores Brownie I most recently tried at the Riverside Arts Market.
In the words of founder, Crystal, “Little Black Box is all about the love of local food. Deep in our core beliefs, we understand that food connects us at every meal. In this age of faster, disconnectedness and over-scheduling, we are proud to make food that celebrates taking a moment to savor.” … and savor we will!
We got to chat with Crystal about LBB, how the Brand was born and where it’s going. Spoiler Alert: You can now buy LBB jam in WALMART!
How did Little Black Box come about?
Originally LBB was a baking company. We still are and the items we make now are much different from what we made starting out but it was absolutely done for fun. I just really enjoyed baking and focusing on something as well as how delighted people would be when they tasted something I had created.
Is there any significance to the name?
The plan was to put all of the sweets into little black boxes, but they ended up being more difficult to source than I realized but by then I was in love with the name so I just kept it.
How did you learn how to make such ahhhmazing jam?
I am an introvert, I read a lot and I approached jam making as a student would. I studied books, watched videos, the local library was a constant for me and still is.
Do you make all the jam yourself?
Sometimes. Jam and baking are sort of seasonal. Summers are slower since markets are hot, but fall and spring are busy so I often have help with fruit prep or some of the baking prep.
Word on the street is that LBB is sold in Jacksonville Walmarts! How did you accomplish that?
Took 2 years for that to happen! A small group of local food makers and I took a trip to Bentonville, AK for a made in the USA manufacturing summit they hold each year. I had an opportunity to pitch my products to the Category Manager and she loved the jam but I didn't have distribution to get it to the stores. A year rolls by and I got an email about the category and what was happening so I reached out and asked her for suggestions, she gave me the names of a few distributors that might be able to help. I sent some emails and one of them was responsive so now I am on the shelves in Jax … here we are!
What advice would you give other small business owners looking to get their product into stores?
Don't give up. Read and have a marketing plan in place. Know what that will look like for you.
Where do you envision LBB going from here?
I plan to focus on North Florida. I want to be known as Jacksonville's jam and then spread out into Georgia and the rest of Florida. Steady growth while maintaining the quality and integrity of the jam is a huge focus.
What has been the most challenging part of owning a small business?
Getting out in front. I am so happy making.
When you get overwhelmed with being a business owner, what keeps you motivated?
Taking a step back and focusing. I like to think I can multitask well. I can't. so when there is a lot going on I have to take a step back and just do one thing at a time. Every day there are things left undone but that is just the reality of running a business. I always have to remind myself that tomorrow is a new day.
What sets LBB apart from other jam companies/brands?
Small batch mentality. I don't make hundreds of jars at a time. No big vats of jam, it's all handcrafted, each jar wiped down and every label applied by a person. There is a lot of pride in the product.
A little bit about you ....
Are you a Jacksonville native?
I lived here as a kid, on the Northside. My mom was visiting once and she took me by the old house to see. We have done that a lot in a few places I lived as a kid. Originally, I am from Charleston, SC .
What is your favorite pastime when you aren't whipping up some delicious treats?
I am a bit of a homebody, just me and my dogs but I do have a small group of friends that are all also small business owners and we get together for a meal on occasion.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in the Jacksonville area?
I would have to say Gilbert's on Southside Blvd. It is just so southern and delicious, all those sauce choices!!!!!
Do you have a favorite jam or pastry that you make?
Pastries would hands down be the artisan tarts. Such a throwback item and the flavor combinations are endless. I fill them with our jams so you won't usually find them anyplace else. Jam would have to be fig. Short growing season so I make as much as I can but once it's gone I have to wait a whole year to get it back!
If you could travel anywhere this year, where would it be?
Planning a trip to NY this summer. So many things to eat :-)
What is your morning routine? Do you have a go-to morning drink?
My mornings are usually laid back. I tend to work later into the evening so days are spent on the computer or visiting customers, picking up jars, fruit or supplies. Listening to podcasts and trying to juggle it all. Smoothies ftw I am all about making smoothie bowls so I can fill them up with jam and peanut butter, it's sort of a drink, sort of a meal.
What is on your 2019 Bucket List?
Camping, log cabin not a tent. South Florida to visit family and growing the business!